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[Melbourne] Day At The Museum

18 July 201303:53PMpaxtravel

Taken yesterday. Out of shot to the right is the MCG.

This morning I went and bought a newspaper. Just for the sheer novelty of having a newspaper that wasn't the West.

A lot of stuff is like that. Some is the same, and then you hit something weird and different, and it suddenly whacks you in the face all over again that this isn't just some strange part of Perth. It takes some getting used to. Or maybe I just need to get out more.

Anyway.

Melbourne museum was incredible. Hands down the best museum I've ever been to. I guess not in terms of how much they have - although they have a lot - but in terms of how it's presented. Where the Egyptian museum relies on dodgy guides from outside, and the Louvre has these placard-y things you can grab and take with you, Melbourne museum has full-on interactive displays, touch screens, and models, and animatronic dinosaurs, and...

It's not theme park-y though, which is sort of how that makes it sound. I actually learned stuff, which (I hope) is the whole point. Like the history of life exhibit. I think it was while looking at a thing about reptile evolution? I figured out how much of biology basically revolves around carrying your own personal sack of ocean around with you, because that's where you evolved. That's the whole point of egg shells. And skin. I mean, it's obvious when you put it like that, but it was still a fun moment. And maybe it was just my imagination, but it felt like it was planned. Like they'd stuck all the evidence and all the subtle hints in front of me, but left the final leap of understanding to me. Which is just a brilliant way to design a museum. If I didn't have stuff on tomorrow I'd be back in a heartbeat.

(Also, they very kindly accepted UWA student cards for their free student entry. That was pretty great.)

There's loads of other stuff there, but the thing I went with the specific intent of seeing was this guy:

This is CSIRAC, the Commonwealth Science and Industrial Research Automatic Computer. From the 1950s. It's the oldest intact digital computer in the world, and it was the first computer ever to play digital music.

There was an old guy standing next to it, looking as surprised at how small things are now as we were at how big they were back then. It was programmed with punch tape, and it did its things with valves and giant tubes of mercury, and then if you're very very lucky and nobody turns on the kettle, you get a slightly different bit of punched paper out.

I have no idea why I find this so impossibly cool.

It took the promise of what I was assured would be a literal valley made of cake to drag me away.

I was not disappointed.

Also, if anyone is stuck for gift ideas next Christmas: this.

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